Posted by: Taylor | November 2, 2006

Whatever Happened to Training Wheels? Protecting Our Children’s Innocence – Part 1 of 3

Learning to Ride without the Training Wheels“Daddy, pwease take off my training wheews,” said Jonathan, my five year old son.

 

I looked away from my book and thoughtfully responded, “Why?”

“’Cause I want to wearn how to ride Herby (his bike)!” 

“Do you think you’re ready?”

 

“Yes yes yes yes yes!  I’m ready, Daddy!”

“Okay then, we’ll take off your wheels.”

“Hurray!  Hurray!  What I always wanted!”

Then Jonathan looked me in the face and asked, “Daddy, will you help me wearn to ride Herby without training wheews?”  I gladly answered, “Yes!”

A few minutes later I was in the garage removing training wheels.  This was not my first expedition to the garage for this task. Two years ago this rite of passage had been preformed for my daughter.  She begged me for a week to take off her “wheews,” and finally the weekend arrived along with an hour to spare and she was off, never to return to training wheels.

Jonathan arrived at my side with helmet, smile, and dancing eyes.  His excitement was explosive, and Herby was the fuse.  As soon as he saw that the “wheews” were off, so was he.  He jumped onto Herby and tried to peddle but gravity and poor balance took over. 

His first attempt:  a failure.

A little hurt, a little scared, but not deterred.  “Daddy, help me, pwease.”  Happily I came along side to give balance, assurance, and instruction.  He peddled; I ran.  He wobbled; I steadied.  He fell, and I caught.  This was our cadence up and down the sidewalk, on the driveway and in the yard.

A half hour passed and both Jonathan and I were soaked with sweat despite its being the first day of October.  Fall comes slow in the south as does change and conversations.  We southerners don’t hanker to change much, but we are always up for a good talkin’. 

Hot and tired, I told Jonathan it was time for a rest and some water.  He agreed quickly enough, but immediately asked if he could practice more in a minute.  He wanted to make sure that his training was not finished for the day.  I assured him we would continue after a rest.

We talked technique as we drank our bottles of water.  I explained to Jonathan the importance of having the right amount of speed and balance to ride Herby without falling.  He understood the ideas, but lacked the experience.  By the time we finished our water, I had an idea to help him gain the experience.

Taking his bike, I replaced one of the missing training wheels, the left one to be exact.  Next, I had Jonathan ride in a circle, but always going right.  Practicing this way required him to lean to the right to go in a circle.  Eventually, he will learn how to balance himself and not fall.

Jonathan was ecstatic!  Discouragement, fear, and failure were replaced with confidence, trust, and success.  His heart soared with joy, and his face gave way to what was evident in his heart.  I was a hero!

Jonathan rode for another half hour gaining confidence with every turn of the peddle.  I sat, watched, and encouraged.  Reflecting on our time together, I gave thanks for training wheels.  Training wheels might be a silly thing to be thankful for but it is appropriate.

We all need training wheels.  We all desire someone to come along with help.  None of us are quite ready for what lies ahead whether we acknowledge it or not.  This is the job of training wheels, to prepare us for the next step.  But, it seems that training wheels have lost their usefulness to us and especially to our children.  Even as they continue to fall and scratch their hands and knees we fail to recognize their need for the “wheews.”

Corrie Ten BoomCorrie Ten Boom tells about a trip she once took with her loving and wise father.  She was young, perhaps ten or eleven, and quite excited about a trip alone with her father.  Corrie wanted to talk to him about a conversation she had overheard some older girls having at school.  She was a little nervous about asking, but curiosity was stronger than nerves, and eventually she gained the strength to ask.

“Father, I wish to ask you about something.”

“Yes, dear, go ahead, ask.”

Corrie shared that she had overheard older girls talking and giggling about something which she wished to know what it was.  She had never heard of this before, and she did not understand any of it.

“What were they talking about?” asked her father.

“Something they called ‘sex.’  Daddy, what is ‘sex?’”

Corrie’s father sat very still and silent.  He thought, and then spoke, “When we arrive in the station, will you carry my bag for me?”

“Yes, father.  But, what of my question?” asked Corrie.

“Once we arrive, I will answer your question.”

The train trudged along for another hour.  Coming to the train station at last, Corrie’s father pulled down his large suitcase and gave it to Corrie to carry.  Grabbing the bag she was unable to move it.  The bag was too much for her to carry.  Corrie looked at her father and said, “Father, it’s too heavy for me!”

“Yes, I know.” said her father.  “And the knowledge of the question you have asked is too heavy a load for you too.  I will carry this load for you until you are old enough to carry it yourself.”

Corrie was happy with this answer.  She trusted her wise and godly father.  Knowing that he would never withhold something she truly needed nor would he burden her with something she was not yet able to carry.

luggage.gifCorrie’s father understood the merit of training wheels.  He knew the giving of information (or responsibility) to Corrie at too young an age was a load she was not yet ready to carry.  He decided it was better for him to carry that load a little longer for her so she could mature properly.  Later, once she had matured, she would then be able to know how to handle the responsibilities that would come with new knowledge.

Today children are being exposed to adult ideas, themes, and content prior to their ability to understand or assimilate them.  This is not a burden they are prepared to carry nor should they be expected.  In the second part of this article entitled, Society’s Removal of Training Wheels: The Doing Away with Childhood Innocence, I will detail the destructive nature which ensues from the encouragement of adult behavior in children.

Copyright © November 2006 by Taylor W. Kendrick

All rights reserved.  No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

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Responses

  1. Great article – Very thought provoking! I particularly enjoyed the re-telling of Jonathan and his adventures with Herby!

  2. […] Whatever Happened to Training Wheels? Protecting Our Children’s Innocence – Part 1 of 3 […]


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